Monthly Archives: July 2010

What’s next?

We’ve said goodbye to strawberries, raspberries, broad beans, cauliflower & calabrese but what’s next from the plot? In full production are the potatoes, courgettes, squash, runner and french beans, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and rocket but there are one or two delights left this summer before we get into the true winter veg.

The first are the cabbages, not a classic summer veg in my book, but will go nicely with a Sunday roast. These are the first I’ve grown successfully and I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out. I daren’t lift the mesh tunnel as I’d never get it back over them!

Then there’s the sweetcorn, my first, and from the near fever-pitch sense of anticipation from other bloggers’ posts it’s going to be fantastic. I can’t wait!

On the flower front there’s the promise of the Dahlia patch reaching full bloom and yet more sweet peas (keep on cutting them!).

And the wonderful gladioli, the Dame Edna Everage of flowers according to one of Edith’s recent posts and why not? Being a bit over the top sometimes is a good thing!

So a nod to what’s already been and gone and a look forward to the delights still to come. That’s what it’s all about!

Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched on Sunday. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here.


I lifted my shallots at the weekend as the foliage was dieing back. I planted them way back on the 7th February along with the garlic and onion sets. The garlic has been a complete disaster, hardly any came through compared to last year when I had a good crop. And the onions haven’t been much better, pretty small compared to last year. I’m pleased with the shallots though, this year I’ve grown Golden Gourmet from sets and they are better than last year’s Grisselle variety.

I’ve set aside the best 20 or so to prepare for my local Horticultural Society’s Summer Show. I won 2nd prize last year and shared the Onion Cup so we’ll see what happens in a few weeks. I’ve peeled off any split skins and they’ll be left to dry for a while now. Then just before the show I’ll trim them up and tie the tops so they look the part. I think I’ll go back to overwintering my garlic, onion and shallot sets next time as it seems to produce better results.

Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched on Sunday. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here.

Lands’ End Free Voucher & Seed Giveaway

I’ve teamed up with clothing retailer Lands’ End to offer a fantastic free Lands’ End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway.

The new Colour Garden at Barnsdale is sponsored by Lands’ End, who have jackets and coats for whatever the British summer throws at us. You can follow progress of the garden on the Lands’ End blog.

The first 25 readers to leave a comment on this post will receive 2 free packets of Nasturtium seeds – Jewel Mix, semi-double blooms – ideal to sow next spring to brighten up your flower bed or veg plot. In addition they will go into a draw for 1 of 5 £25 Lands’ End clothing gift vouchers I have to give away which can be used online. The draw will be made and vouchers/seeds despatched at the end of August.

A fantastic prize and all you have to do is leave a comment and I’ll do the rest. Couldn’t be simpler!!

Dahlia update and More Veg

The Dahlia’s are getting quite big now, really filling out, and I am just about keeping up with the disbudding on the main plants. It’s strangely satisfying and hopefully I’ll be rewarded with bigger and better blooms shortly. I’ve got 16 plants from tubers, about 2/3rds have now shown their first flowers, and eight plants grown from seed. See my previous posts here and here for more Dahlia photos.

This one is Kennemerand, a real striking yellow flower.

Next is Shooting Star, a more subtle cream colour.

This one isn’t a named variety but has a pretty orangey ball shaped flower.

And here’s the pink version.

This one is Kenora grown in a container.

And finally a lovely Dahlia flower grown from the seeds that Maureen gave me. She has some fantastic Dahlia photos on her blog.

On the veg front things are going well with courgettes and squash in abundance, I’m giving some away as we have loads. The beans are getting into their stride now and I’m managing to pick a good handful of runners and french beans every other day now.

In the greenhouse I’m growing quite a few peppers this year. Fingers crossed I may be able to have green, red, yellow and orange peppers all at the same time if it comes off.

As it’s the first time I’ve tried to grow Aubergines I’m pleased that the fruits are forming nicely, they should fatten up in the next few weeks.

This is my favourite chilli variety, Cayenne, will eventually turn a deep red colour and is quite hot and perfect for cooking from fresh or for drying.

Hope you are having a great weekend. Please look out for a free giveaway/competition I’m running which will be coming up in the next day or so, I have loads of seeds to give away and all you will have to do is leave a comment. So look out for my next post.

Harvesting: Lettuce, Rocket, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Chillies, Courgette, Squash, Potatoes, Broad, French & Runner beans, Chard and Carrots.

Lovin’ the Veg!

I’m lovin’ the veg at the moment! This is what I’ve just picked for the next day or two. Cucumber, runner, french and broad beans, squash, potatoes (Charlotte & Anya), courgettes and the first red chilli of the season. Should keep us going for a while!

Firsdown Music Fayre

Glastonbury, Reading, Isle of Wight and now………Firsdown! 25 years on from Live Aid the 5th annual Firsdown Music Fayre was rocking. We didn’t have to go far, about 500 yards, to the end of the village where a neatly mowed field with a stage erected at one end played host to around 500 local revellers. The festival started on Saturday evening with bands and fireworks and then from midday to 7pm on Sunday with more bands, BBQ, bar etc.

There was an ecclectic mix of music, mainly rock and pop with a bit of blues thrown in and a Shadow’s tribute band, “Vintage Echoes”. Other bands included “22nd Street”, “Tramps & Amps”, “Stiff Joints”, “The Livery Road Blues Band”, and an amazing 4-piece of 13 year olds called “The Jalapenos”.

The crowd enjoyed some great music under clear blue skies, a glorious afternoon. The girls loved it, a great family day out!

Cucurbits update

At this time of year there is one family of plants that starts producing serious amounts of veg on the plot. Cucurbits include cucumbers, squash and courgette which are all in full production now.

I finally cut my first cucumber of the season today. It’s been a bit of a disaster after the first plants (Carmen) sucumbed to a greenhouse move when it was still too cold, if I’d have waited another week or two we would have been picking them a good 6 weeks ago. Last year two plants produced over 40 cucumbers from the end of May to the end of October, Carmen is a great all female flower variety that I will definitely grow again. But it wasn’t to be and my back up is not all-female, I think it’s called burpless tasty green or something like that but it’s nowhere near as productive. Still there’s one in the fridge now so can’t complain.

I’m leaving this squash to grow on but cut the rest when they are fairly small. One or two rot off but most make it to the oven.

The variety is Mixed Scallop, a packet of seed I’ve had for three years now, some plants produce yellow fruits and others are a light green colour.

The courgettes are flying along, this one is Black Beauty.

And this one is F1 Orelia.

The girls love picking courgettes!

The Sweet Peas, Cornflowers & Red Orach are still going strong.

Whilst I’ve been trying to grow more exotic flowers this year the old stalwart the pot marigold is still one of my favourites. These two pictures do it some justice, great colour.

Off to the village music festival tomorrow, fingers crossed that the weather will hold out. Hope you are having a great weekend!

Don’t Dis Me?

The Dahlia plot is now bursting with energy, new growth from every point shoots skywards with the promise of glorious blooms. I now face the question of disbudding, do I remove some of the flowers to promote the ones that are left to even greater levels or, do I let nature take its course and have more smaller blooms. So I’ve started removing the adjacent flower buds just leaving the central bud on each stem as soon as they are large enough to handle. I also remove the side shoots from the next pair of leaves down the stem. This should channel more energy to the central bud giving a bigger bloom with a longer stem and also promote more growth further down the plant which will mean a bushier plant in the long run. Having never grown Dahlias before I’m adopting my usual approach of taking everything very seriously until I get fed up with it at which point nature will take over and do her thing.

I’m hoping to be able to cut a few flowers for the house and enter some in my local Horticultural Societies Summer Show later in August. The plants in containers are now well away and in full bloom and the tubers planted directly in the ground are just about to start which is exciting as I have no idea what the form and colour of the bloom will be (I’ve not got round to checking the varieties on the internet). When I lift the tubers I can label the height and colour of each one so I can have more of a co-ordinated display next year.

This is the smallest flower so far (one of the container tubers).

This one is Kelvin Floodlight which is by the front door. I love the colour.

From just growing veg in previous years I’m enjoying raising some flowers this time round, you can’t beat the extra colour in the garden to lift your mood.

Digging Spuds in the Rain – Does it get any better?

Down here in darkest South Wiltshire it’s been raining for a good 24 hours now. Hurrah! Don’t think I’ve enjoyed rain this much before. In a normal British summer we just moan about it raining but this year the drought seems to have gone on and on. To celebrate I decided to dig up the first of the spuds. So there I was digging up the first spuds of the year and I thought does it get any better than this?

What’s up Doc?

Not a lot on the carrot front, Bugs wouldn’t be too impressed. Saying that these are the best carrots I’ve ever grown, they have the length, between 6 an 10 inches but they’re a bit thin. It doesn’t look good for my long carrot experiment that I sowed in mid-March. So what’s the deal with growing carrots? Should I have waited longer, they were sown ages ago. Or is it because they are grown in containers? Anyone had a better result?